Microsoft is discontinuing Windows Mixed Reality. What will happen to the VR headsets that use the platform?
On Wednesday, Windows Mixed Reality appeared in a list of deprecated Windows features. The document states:
“Windows Mixed Reality is deprecated and will be removed in a future release of Windows. This deprecation includes the Mixed Reality Portal app, and Windows Mixed Reality for SteamVR and Steam VR Beta.”
The former is required to run WMR headsets, and the latter to access SteamVR apps, raising the question of whether the devices will still be usable after Windows Mixed Reality is discontinued.
According to a statement from Microsoft (via UploadVR, see sources below), it will no longer be possible to download the Mixed Reality Portal app or Windows Mixed Reality for SteamVR starting November 1, 2026. And according to an anonymous Microsoft source that reached out to UploadVR, the “future release of Windows” in question will arrive in late 2024. Anyone who installs this Windows 11 update or later one will no longer be able to set up a WMR headset on their Windows PC. The statement reads:
“Existing Windows Mixed Reality devices will continue to work with Steam until users upgrade to a version of Windows that does not include Windows Mixed Reality.”
Windows Mixed Reality never took off
With Windows Mixed Reality, Microsoft wanted to conquer the fledgling PC VR market and take market share from HTC and Oculus with cheap devices. The first headsets were released in 2017 and came from manufacturers such as Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Samsung. The last WMR device to see the light of day was the HP Reverb G2, which was developed in collaboration with Valve and launched at the end of 2020.
WMR headsets were the first that had inside-out tracking, which is now standard, but were lacking in terms of tracking volume and controller quality. Despite some aggressive pricing, the hardware had little success: today, about 5 percent of all PC VR headsets are WMR devices. The tetherless Quest headsets account for almost 50 percent.
The cancellation of Windows Mixed Reality is another sign of Microsoft’s retreat from XR hardware. The future of the Hololens AR headset is uncertain after mass layoffs, although Microsoft is still working on a military Hololens. The company’s XR focus has shifted to software and services. Microsoft is currently working with Meta to provide services such as Xbox Cloud Gaming and Office applications for Meta Quest.
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